December Workshop Wraps up a Successful Year of Training

Our last workshop of 2010 took place December 9-11, 2010 and wrapped up a very successful year of training.  Overall for the year, we’ve had over 200 participants in our training programs from 30 states and 15 countries.

The December workshop attendees came from 15 different states, plus Africa, Sweden and Canada to brave the Wisconsin winter and learn about aquaponics.  Interests ranged from home food production to social and commercial projects.  This was a very fun and well rounded group and we really enjoyed getting to know them all. I am always happy to see friendships blossom among the workshop participants as like-minded individuals share their ideas and plans for aquaponics.  John, Kathleen and I made new friends as well and we look forward to long and fruitful relationships with all of the participants in this workshop.

I’d like to introduce you to these workshop attendees so you can see for yourself what a fascinating group of people we had the pleasure of spending these 3 days with, talking about aquaponics and controlled environment agriculture:

Wayne, who travelled from Benin, Africa to join us, plans to implement a large-scale aquaponics project in Benin.  Father and daughter team, Steve A and Jennifer are second-timers in our workshop and are ready to begin their commercial aquaponics endeavor in North Carolina.  Ann, an organic farmer from northern Wisconsin is looking to incorporate an aquaponic greenhouse into her farm and CSA.  Alex travelled from Canada to study aquaponics in hopes of incorporating it into housing projects and communities.   Steve B from Michigan, and his business partner, Steve S (who attended an earlier workshop) will be kicking off their aquaponics projects this winter.  Marc and Link are working toward the implementation of a large commercial aquaponics project in Vermont that will also feature a research greenhouse and agritourism.

Steve C. is part of an ethanol energy co-op and is exploring using the waste heat from their ethanol plant to heat an aquaponics greenhouse.  Jeff and Shannon, from Iowa, will use aquaponics to grow fresh fish and veggies in addition to the hogs and cows on their farm.  Stuart drove from Missouri to learn how to add aquaponics to his existing greenhouse (and now he is thinking about helping us with the Haiti project!).   Melker and Urban, from Sweden, are on a whirlwind tour of sustainable aquaculture and aquaponics in North America and the Nelson and Pade, Inc. workshop was a must-do on their agenda.  Jay, a pediatrician from Montana is investigating aquaponics to supply fresh, nutritious food.  Ann is exploring the viability to setting up an aquaponics greenhouse in Rhode Island.

Steve F (yes, another Steve), is hoping to add aquaponics to the community garden programs in the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center.  George travelled from Washington State to learn how aquaponics can fit into his large organic farm.  Kent is planning an aquaponic enterprise in Hollywood and other LA-area communities that will incorporate retail and agritourism.  Billy is a restaurateur form Tennessee who plans to use aquaponics to supply fresh fish and vegetables for his restaurant.  And, Eric is involved in the aquaponics program at Morrisville State College in New York.

Yes, this is a diverse and motivated group who will help grow aquaponics as an industry.  We will keep you posted in the Aquaponics Journal as these projects move forward.

Green Acres, Kansas City, Aquaponics Project

Green-Acres, Nelson and Pade, partners – Kansas City Aquaponics Project

This week John and I travelled to Kansas City to meet with Ms. Carol Coe and the Green Acres Community Garden group. We began talking with Ms. Coe over a year ago about expanding their community garden program into aquaponics and education. A group from Green Acres toured our greenhouse in November of 2009 and, now after a great deal of planning, working and collaborating, they are funded and ready to start the project.

Green Acres has partnered with the City, the school district and other organizations to put this plan into action. The project will utilize abandoned (but very nice) greenhouses at East High School to launch an aquaponics program and initiative that will provide fresh food to the community, education and hands-on learning for students and jobs and job training for local youth.

Through common goals, partnerships and innovative thinking, Ms. Coe and all involved in this effort are chipping away at the problems of urban food desserts, compromised educational systems, crime and a lack of jobs. This project will feed people while nurturing the soul through a new connection to food, agriculture and aquaponics. I applaud this group for their foresight and motivation and I truly look forward to working with them.

Stay tuned for developments.